Professor of Comparative Religion and Indian Studies and Frederic Wertham Professor of Law and Psychiatry in Society
Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Diana Eck’s academic work has a dual focus—India and America. Her work on India focuses on popular religion, especially temples and places of pilgrimage, called tirthas. Her books include Banaras: City of Light and Darsan: Seeing the Divine Image in India and her most recent work, India: A Sacred Geography, published in 2012.
Her work on the United States focuses especially on the challenges of religious pluralism in a multireligious society. Since 1991, she has headed the Pluralism Project, which explores and interprets the religious dimensions of America’s new immigration; the growth of Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Jain, and Zoroastrian communities in the United States; and the new issues of religious pluralism and American civil society. The Pluralism Project’s award-winning CD-ROM, On Common Ground: World Religions in America, was published in 1997; her book A New Religious America: How a “Christian Country” Has Become the World’s Most Religiously Diverse Nation was published in 2001. Her book Encountering God: A Spiritual Journey From Bozeman to Banaras is in the area of Christian theology and interfaith dialogue. It won the Grawemeyer Book Award in 1995, and a 10th-anniversary edition was published in 2003.
Eck has also worked closely with churches, including her own United Methodist Church and the World Council of Churches, on questions of interreligious relations and dialogue. She is currently Co-Chair of the Interfaith Relations Commission of the National Council of Churches. She received the National Humanities Medal from President Clinton and the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1996, the Montana Governor’s Humanities Award in 2003, and the Melcher Lifetime Achievement Award from the Unitarian Universalist Association in 2003. At Harvard University Diana has served as Chair of the Committee on the Study of Religion and of the Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies as it made the transition to the Department of South Asian Studies. She is also a member of the Faculty of Divinity. In 2012, Diana was named to a Harvard College Professorship in recognition of excellence in undergraduate teaching. She also serves along with Dorothy Austin as Masters of Lowell House at Harvard University.